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COVER STORYConversations and consequencesJasir takes charge of looking into the matter of Inaya’s Facebook photos being stolen and used to make a fake Instagram account. That is not the only issue to tackle, as exams are on the horizon.“Now, to go through the list of possible suspects,” Jasir said, twirling around in the computer chair to face Inaya.Inaya looked at him disbelievingly. “I have questions,” she said.“We can deal with those as we proceed through the list,” Jasir said.“Jasir.” Inaya leaned forward, held up five fingers and began to count off her questions. “One, you think you know who might have done such a thing? Two, you suspect not one person, but enough people to make a whole list out of them?”“I pride myself on looking things up thoroughly,” Jasir replied. “Also, I consider all possibilities.”“Such as…?” Inaya looked at Jasir with a critical expression on her face.“I’ll let the list do the talking.” Jasir held out a slip of paper. Inaya took it, gave it a glance and frowned.“You can’t be serious.” Inaya looked up at Jasir.“Aren’t you going to ask me how I came to these conclusions?” Jasir asked expectantly.“No. These are just ridiculous.” Inaya jabbed a finger at the first name on the list. “Leena? I mean, come on, that’s not funny, not even as a joke.”“Like I said, I consider all possibilities.” Jasir leaned back and tapped his forehead with a finger. “Also, I wanted to add at least one suspect from each category. There’s the ‘they know too much’ category, the ‘gets close enough to you to secretly hurt you’ category, the ‘so obvious that you overlook them’ category…”“I assume Leena falls in the ‘so impossibly ridiculous that it undermines your entire credibility as an investigator’ category,” Inaya said tonelessly. She lifted the piece of paper so that it caught the light. “The description in place for suspect number two is oddly specific. ‘Someone in the family perfectly positioned to access all your public information and twist it into something completely different’…I wonder who you could be referring to by that.”“You know who I mean.” Jasir nodded empathically.“Unless you mean Arisha, little miss drama queen who’s oh-so innocent and none of the grownups think she could do anything wrong and I don’t know why we can’t ignore her even though she’s our cousin-besides her, I have no idea,” Inaya answered with a grimace.“I don’t think there’s anyone else you know who fits that description well enough,” Jasir said. “Or do you happen to have a friend who acts the same way? That’s the third suspect on the list. Someone just like the annoying cousin, only this person studies with you at school. Not only do you have one of her in the family, you have one of them as a classmate. Am I right?”Inaya rolled her eyes and glanced at the last entry on the list. “OK, now you just added this to make the list longer,” she said, folding up the paper. “Come on. That Aimen character not only stalked you at tuition, you also had them on your Facebook account, so it counts as a serious entry,” Jasir said.“What’s going on here?” Leena’s voice cut across whatever Inaya had started to say in response to Jasir. “Are we having an informal mini Bad News Day before the next proper Bad News Day?”“Is that all that happens around here?” Jasir groaned. “I’m just reminding you,” Leena said, sitting down next to them. “Inaya has her mock O Levels and you have the qualifying assessment that judges your suitability for Matric or O Levels.” She looked thoughtful. “They should figure out what to call them, though.”“They already have,” Jasir said. “They’re called ‘exams’.”“Very funny.” Leena shook her head and shrugged. “I hope you’re prepared, both of you.”“Way to be a downer.” Inaya flapped her hands irritably at Leena. “Shoo. Go away and take all the depressing reminders with you.”“Don’t you have any permanently life-changing exams ahead of you to keep you busy?” Jasir added.“Don’t change the subject.” Leena gestured towards the folded-up paper in Inaya’s lap. “What’s that?”“A list of permanently life-changing personalities.” Jasir grinned. “You can take a look if you want.”Inaya handed it over. Leena unfolded it and gazed down at it for a solid half-minute. “You start off strong but then it all goes down the drain with the Arisha reference. For some reason you missed mentioning Inaya.”“That’s because this is actually a list of people to investigate regarding the whole identity theft thing,” Inaya said.“You mean…to ask them about more information, surely?” Leena said with raised eyebrows. “Otherwise there’s no reason to put me on there. Anyway, you got the account taken down, you’re cleaning out your social media friends list with Jasir, what more do you need?”“We need to get to the bottom of this to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” Jasir said. Inaya nodded.“The lengths you two will go to in order to avoid studying…” Leena shook her head. “Anyway, more serious topic. Jasir, I have a limited time offer for you.”“This had better involve food, more time at the computer, or both,” Jasir said.“This is about deciding between Matric and O Levels. You can take a good look at my old textbooks for an idea of what the Matric curriculum is like. Inaya can show you the same for O Levels. My offer includes a guided tour of my textbooks with running commentary.” Leena smiled.“Ah.” Jasir looked serious. “You know I don’t spend more time with textbooks than I absolutely have to, so it doesn’t really matter either way, but I guess I should take a look some time. I’ll tell you when I want to do that.”“Limited time offer,” Leena said. “Before the next result day. Let me know soon.”“Alright.” Jasir stood up. “I’ll make my exit before you steer the conversation anywhere else. I don’t want too much of the real world messing up my day. Rest assured, my investigation is in progress. I will report in with the latest update soon.” With a grin and a skip, he was out of the room.“I have to say, you were very quick about offering him a tour of my textbooks without actually asking me about it beforehand,” Inaya said. “Not to mention, I’m still using them.”“Inaya,” Leena began to speak, but Inaya held up both hands to stop her before she started. “I know, I know. If it were up to me, I would be done with them last year instead of having to go through them all over again to give the exams again, but this is how it is for me now.” Inaya breathed heavily and pursed her lips.“That’s not what I was going to say, actually.” Leena said softly. “I just want to tell you not to bring the feelings from last year to this year’s mocks. Don’t go into this experience holding on to the disappointment from before.”“That fixes everything!” Inaya threw her hands up in the air, Jasir-style. “All I needed was for you to tell me what to do. All my problems instantly disappeared!”Leena closed her eyes for a few moments without answering, then opened them and gave Inaya a serious look. “This is exactly what I’m talking about, and sarcasm isn’t going to solve anything.”“I’m not being sarcastic.” Inaya huffed. “You don’t know what it’s like. That moment when you see your results, when reality hits you and knocks out the air in your lungs and you can’t breathe. All the time and effort you put in during the school year, the hours you spent in the exam hall, the sleepless nights and overcaffeinated days. That one grade fails to represent even a fraction of that, and me? I’m putting in another whole year of my life that will never be expressed in the form of a grade, yet that grade is supposed to judge the value of that time I spent. Of course, I am going to carry all of these feelings into the exam hall, and more.” Inaya paused and took a deep breath. “Now I don’t know what you’re smiling about, Leena.”“You haven’t talked about this with anyone, have you?” Leena reached out and grasped Inaya’s hands. “I’m just glad that you’re finally starting to let it out.”Inaya pulled her hands away. “It doesn’t change anything.”“But?” Leena insisted.“It doesn’t change anything, but at least I can talk about it and have you listen without invalidating my feelings, telling me how I should feel, or worse.” Inaya gave Leena a weak smile.“Girls!” Mama walked into the room and up to the computer table, holding up her cell phone. “I just got off the phone with your aunt. It’s about your cousin Arisha.” Leena and Inaya looked at each other, then back at their mother. “What has she done now?” Leena asked.“More appropriately, what hasn’t she done,” Inaya muttered.Ignoring their reactions, Mama continued, “Arisha is looking at colleges and deciding where she wants to apply.”Inaya rolled her eyes. “It’s quite early in the year for that,” she said.“She just wants to go around campus, get a feel of the place. I agreed to have Leena show her around the Women’s Community College. You’ll have time in between classes, won’t you, dear?” Mama smiled brightly. “It won’t be a problem for you, right?”Leena stood up to face her mother. “Actually, it will be.”We will see next time how matters unfold for Leena, Inaya and Jasir. Until then, let’s hope they are prepared for everything exam season brings, both academic and beyond.

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